Tasmania's Wild West Coast

West Coast Wilderness Railway, Queenstown TAS. © Tourism Tasmania

Tasmania's Wild West Coast

On the west coast of Tasmania, unlimited adventure is the natural way to holiday. Base yourself in the scenic, edge-of-the-world fishing town of Strahan. Then white-water raft the pristine and untamed Franklin River rapids or cruise or kayak down the tranquil Gordon River. Hike past thousand-year-old Huon pines in one of the world’s last temperate rainforests. Soar over the wilderness in a helicopter, take an historic train from Queenstown or sail across Macquarie Harbour.  This area also has a rich, layered human story – of convicts, pioneers, loggers, miners and more recently, environmental activists.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Devonport and a 4.5 hour drive from Hobart to Strahan, on vast Macquarie Harbour. This is the main gateway to World Heritage-listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, where the fierce Collingwood and Franklin Rivers tumble over rocky rainforest and meet as the Gordon River.
For a truly memorable adventure, join a white-water rafting tour down the Franklin River. You’ll surf over rapids and rock formations, deep valleys and glossy, moss-covered cliffs. The ride gets gentler at its southern reaches where the Franklin relaxes into the lower Picton and Huon River.

See the scenery at a calmer pace on a Gordon River cruise.  From Strahan, glide into the remote reaches of Macquarie Harbour and explore the ruins of Sarah Island, Tasmania’s oldest penal settlement. You’ll see why convicts held in this barren, forbidding place christened the harbour’s entrance ‘Hell’s Gates’. Coast down the Gordon River past dense temperate rainforest, stopping to walk amongst the towering, ancient Huon pines once logged for shipbuilding. Your tour guide will share stories of the environmental protests of 1982 and 1983 that saved the wild Franklin River from being permanently dammed. Cruise back to Strahan or extend your tour with a kayaking trip from Heritage Landing. Paddle upstream on the dark, tranquil waters of the lower Gordon River, spotting platypus and water birds and pausing to picnic on a riverbank beach. 

Want more? Sail across Macquarie Harbour or swoop over the sprawling, secret wilderness on a scenic helicopter flight. Gouge through the mountain from Strahan to Queenstown on the original steam train that transported copper from the Queenstown mines. Stop at some of the original stations and learn about the area’s mining history from local guides.

Stretch your legs on walks through Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Follow the short Franklin River Nature Trail through riverside rainforest banks or take in the majestic scenery from Donaghy’s Lookout. Highly experienced and prepared walkers can even tackle the arduous 3- 5 day hike to the summit of Frenchmans Cap. Alternatively, commune with the wilderness on a four day adventure where you sail, kayak and camp.

From Strahan, you can also jet boat down the King River and take an all-terrain vehicle on the Henty Sand Dunes. Tour the reforestation operation at Teepookana Plateau, where Huon pine stumps and limbs left by early timer-cutters are salvaged and replanted. View Montezuma Falls, Tasmania’s highest waterfalls, near Rosebery from a swing bridge. Picnic near Lake Burbury, a dramatic hydro lake fringed by World Heritage-listed mountains and forest. 

You can choose your own soul-soaring adventure here on Tasmania’s wild and wonderful west coast.

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